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Introduction

Map showing the extent of Mesopotamia. Shown are Washukanni, Nineveh, Hatra, Assur, Nuzi, Palmyra, Mari, Sippar, Babylon, Kish, Nippur, Isin, Lagash, Uruk, Charax Spasinu and Ur, from north to south.

Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.

The Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.

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Sumerian inscription
The Sumerian language was the language of ancient Sumer, spoken in Southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. It was gradually replaced by Akkadian as a spoken language in the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, but continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the first century AD. Then, it was forgotten until the 19th century, when Assyriologists began deciphering the cuneiform inscriptions and excavated tablets left by these speakers. Sumerian is a language isolate.

The Sumerian language is the earliest known written language. It first appeared as numerical records, with symbols added to represents the things counted, which then developed into a logographic script representing the whole language, not just accounting objects. The logographic symbols were then generalized using a wedge-shaped stylus to impress the shapes into wet clay, giving rise to the name cuneiform, meaning "wedge-shape". These distinctive wedge shapes were imitated even in carved inscriptions. By ca. 2600 BC, the large set of logographic signs had been simplified into a syllabary of several hundred signs, allowing modern Assyriologists to understand many aspects of the phonology, morphology and syntax of the language.

Did you know

...... that Ninurta, the Mesopotamian god of hunting, is believed by many scholars to be the source of the biblical figure Nimrod?
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...The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literary fiction. Scholars surmise that a series of Sumerian legends about the mythological hero-king Gilgamesh (who according to the Sumerian king list might have been a real ruler in the late Early Dynastic II period (ca. 27th century BC)) were later compiled by the scribe Sin-liqe-unninni into an Akkadian language epic, with the most complete version existing today preserved on twelve clay tablets found in the library of the 7th century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.

The story revolves around the relationship between Gilgamesh, a king who has become distracted and disheartened by his rule, and a friend, Enkidu, who is half-wild and who undertakes dangerous quests with Gilgamesh. Much of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh's thoughts of loss following Enkidu's death. It is about their becoming human together, and places a high emphasis on issues surrounding human mortality. It is often credited by historians as being one of the first literary works.

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Mesopotamia(6 C, 26 P)
History of Mesopotamia(4 C, 10 P)
Mesopotamian Arabic(3 P)
Upper Mesopotamia(17 C, 29 P)
Mesopotamia templates(3 C, 4 P)

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